Another new year is upon us. While neither of us are big fans of ‘new year’s resolutions’ per say, it is a great time to reflect on how your previous 365 days went. Looking at what goals you achieved and the time to lay out a strong foundation of positivity, health and happiness for the next trip around the sun.
While you are looking at the year ahead, we encourage you to make room for yourself and your health. Often people don’t make their health a priority until they have a shake up or a scare about their personal health and wellness. By then, it can often be too little, too late. So, to help you on your path to personal health, we have created our top ten tips for a healthier you in 2022.
- Make sleep a priority – sleep plays an integral role in your physical and mental health. When you sleep, it gives your body a chance to relax and heal your cells, including your heart and blood vessels. It also gives your brain a chance to reboot and help improve concentration and productivity.
- Take care of your brain – our brain takes up 5% of our body weight but uses 20% of our energy. Sounds like a ‘no brainer’ to take care of your brain, but what do you consciously do daily to ensure brain health is a priority? Playing brain games every day such a Luminosity, a game of cards or chess, or playing an instrument will all help exercise your brain. The foods we eat can also really make a difference. Blueberries, green tea, dark chocolate, avocados, pumpkin seed, eggs, walnuts, broccoli and oily fish are all great brain foods.
- Be active on some level every day – Dan Buettner studies the ‘Blue Zones’ around the world, which are areas in which there are a higher than average number of people living into their 100’s. The commonalities between the people living there is what he studies. Time and time again, people who are active every day live a longer, healthier life. That doesn’t mean you have to go hard at the gym two hours every day. That means getting out for a walk every day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store instead of driving, puttering around your veggie garden in the summer sun. Get moving and enjoy it!
- Increase your fruit and veggie intake to 7 – 9 servings per day – the anti-inflammatory diet is one that we absolutely recommend. This way of eating calls for a significant amount of daily fruit and vegetables. One serving is approximately the size of your palm. The goal is 7 – 9 per day. If you’re just starting out and one is where you are at, take things slowly. Gradually work your way to that goal. Fruits and veggies are imperative to a long, healthy life.
- Decrease your meat intake – we’re not here to make everyone a vegetarian or vegan. That is a personal decision only you can make. But what we can say is that by reducing your meat intake, you will be healthier, and so will our planet. To be clear, ‘meat’ is defined as any animal that used to live – chicken too! People often ask ‘does that mean chicken too?’. Yes! Replace your meat intake with fish and seafood, beans and lentils, tofu and soy products. Meat will slow down your digestive system, in turn slowing down your immune system. It has also been shown to cause chronic inflammation, heart disease and cancer.
- Eat beans every day – yes, we said it! Beans and lentils might be the one thing that most people don’t eat on the daily, but really should. From chickpeas to black beans to kidney beans – they are all great. A terrific source of protein, great for the digestive system and repairing your gut health, beans should be included in your day, every day. Hummus and veggies, black bean soup, or a mixed bean salad are some of our favorite ways to sneak it all in.
- Eat more fish – aim for 2 – 6 times per week. Again, with the anti-inflammatory diet, this is one that we highly recommend. Fish is great for your digestive system, heart, brain, blood – everything! Eating more fish will get your health and wellness on track. Be sure to not deep fry or soak it in sauce…fish is best baked or grilled for optimal health benefits.
- Laugh more – seriously. This one is so important. Let’s be honest, we have had a lot of reasons to not laugh in the last two years. Depression and mental health issues are truly at an all-time high. But laughing really is good for your health. From lowing your blood pressure to boosting your T-cells, laughing really is the best medicine.
- Make time for friends, family and connections – as we age, our brains begin to shrink just like every other muscle in our body. To help combat this, social connection is imperative. The studies of the Blue Zones also note the importance of friendships and social connection. Whether you are meeting friends through church, volunteering, work or your neighbourhood, having time carved out for a social element is really important. Friends can help us lower our stress, have a laugh, feel connected. It is easy to let this not be a priority – be sure to make it one.
- Know your numbers – most people know how tall they are and how much they weigh, but the really important numbers they are left not knowing. Numbers that are really important for you to know, and ensure they are at a good place, include your blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood sugar and hormone levels. You should be going to see your doctor annually for a check-up (yes, EVERY year!) and ensure that you get blood work done to check these numbers as well as to ensure your vitamin and mineral numbers are all up to snuff. Sometimes the simplest of things can cause us to feel energy depleted or be getting sleepless nights. Know your numbers.
We truly hope your 2022 is your best year yet. If you are looking to take your nutrition to the next level, you should join Andrea from our team for the Best You Nutrition Reset starting on January 9. For more information and to register, see here.